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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

The Latin Legacy                   333
pose Classical Latin had the word qmdam> and in popular speech
or informal writing, the numeral units, una, unum (e g unus serous,
a slave, a certain slave) was used for it. Only the latter is used in the
Vulgate, where it is burdened with as much or as little meaning as the
mdefimte article of modern French or English.
The fate of the pointer-words is mixed up with the history of the
personal pronoun. The terminal of a Latin verb sufficiently indicated
the pronoun subject, and the nominative pronouns ego, tu, nos, vos,
were used to give emphasis In Vulgar as in Classical Latin there
was no specific emphatic nominative form of the pronoun in the third
person analogous to ego, tu, etc When it was necessary to indicate
what the personal flexion of the verb could not indicate., i e which of
several individuals was the subject, a demonstrative, eventually ilk,
ilia, illud (i e. that one) took the place of he, she, or it The demonstra-
tive was therefore a pronoun as well as a definite article at the time
when divergence of the Romance dialects occurred The result of
this split personality is that Romance dialects now contain a group
of words which are similar in form, but have different meanings
Thus the word equivalent to the in one may be the word equivalent
to her in another, or to them in a third This curious nexus of elements,
which are identical in form but differ in function is illustrated in the
accompanying highly schematic diagrams (pp. 329 and 330).
Like Scandinavian languages, Latin had two possessive forms of the
pronoun of the third person. One died chddless Only the reflexive situs,
sua, suum left descendants in the modern Romance dialects Like the
Swedish sin, sitt, stna, any of its derivative forms could mean his, her,
or its The gender was fixed by the noun it qualified, and not by the
noun which it replaced, i e. the feminine case-derivative would be used
with mater or regina, a masculine with pater or dominus, and a neuter
with bellwn or impenum
Another difference between Classical and Vulgar Latin is important
in connexion with the adjective of modern Romance languages In
Classical Latin comparison was flexional. There was only one excep-
tion The comparative of adjectives ending in -uus (e g arduus, arduous)
was not formed in the regular way by adding the suffix -tor To avoid
the ugly clash of three vowels (u-i-o-r) the literati used the periphrastic
construction magis arduus (more arduous) with the corresponding
superlative maxime arduus (most arduous). Popular speech had em-
ployed this handy periphrasis elsewhere Thus Plautus used magis aptus
(more suitable), or plus miser (more miserable). In the living language